Tanabata, the Star Festival is celebrated to commemorate the romantic story of two lovers. The lovers are represented by the stars Vega and Altair who are only allowed to meet once a year as long as the sky is clear. The celebration is held on July the 7th and also the 7th month of the Lunar year.

On Tanabata, people write their wishes on a small piece of colored paper called tanzaku and hang them on bamboo trees. On the next day, the wishing trees are floated on a river and burned as an offering. Other than making wishes, people in Japan celebrate the festival with colorful decorations, fireworks, parades and food stalls.

The story of Tanabata is derived from a Chinese legend called Qixi. It is the story of two lovers. One is the heavenly princess Orihime and the other is the cow herder. They met and fell instantly in love and got married. Their love and devotion was so deep that Orihime stopped weaving and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to wander the heavens.

The princess’s father became angry and forbade the lovers to be together. However, because of his daughter’s plead and his love for her, the heavenly father decreed that the two star-crossed lovers could meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month.

By: Soksreyla Owens